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How Innovation Works

9780008339074
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Building on his bestseller The Rational Optimist, Matt Ridley chronicles the history of innovation, and how we need to change our thinking on the subject.


Innovation is the main event of the modern age, the reason we experience both dramatic improvements in our living standards and unsettling changes in our society. It is innovation that will shape the twenty-first century. Yet innovation remains a mysterious process, poorly understood by policy makers and businessmen alike.


Matt Ridley argues that we need to see innovation as an incremental, bottom-up, fortuitous process that happens as a direct result of the human habit of exchange, rather than an orderly, top-down process developing according to a plan. Innovation is crucially different from invention, because it is the turning of inventions into things of practical and affordable use to people. It speeds up in some sectors and slows down in others. It is always a collective, collaborative phenomenon, involving trial and error, not a matter of lonely genius. It still cannot be modelled properly by economists, but it can easily be discouraged by politicians. Far from there being too much innovation, we may be on the brink of an innovation famine.


Ridley derives these and other lessons from the lively stories of scores of innovations – from steam engines to search engines – how they started and why they succeeded or failed.

Cover:
Paperback
Edition Number:
1
ISBN:
9780008339074
Pages:
416
Author:
Ridley Matt
Publisher:
FOURTH ESTATE
Release Year:
2020
Matt Ridley received his BA and DPhil at Oxford researching the evolution of behaviour. He has been science editor, Washington correspondent and American editor of the Economist. He is the author of bestselling titles The Red Queen (1993), The Origins of Virtue (1996), Genome (1999) and Nature via Nurture (2003). His books have sold over half a million copies, been translated into twenty-three languages and been shortlisted for six literary prizes. In 2004 he won the National Academies Book Award from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. He is married to the neuroscientist Professor Anya Hurlbert.
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